International Ocean Freight

International Ocean Freight Shipping: Move your car from USA to West Africa

Shipping cars to West Africa can be quite a cumbersome process but AFL is here to help you regardless of which country of West Africa you want to ship your car to. From Nigeria, Ghana, Senegal to Togo and Benin we offer you flexible prices and a flawless experience of international ocean freight shipping. Ocean […]

Shipping cars to West Africa can be quite a cumbersome process but AFL is here to help you regardless of which country of West Africa you want to ship your car to. From Nigeria, Ghana, Senegal to Togo and Benin we offer you flexible prices and a flawless experience of international ocean freight shipping.

Ocean freight shipping from the US to West Africa:

Ocean Freight Shipping

The most cost-effective way to transport heavy goods, ocean freight shipping might look intimidating to you but believe us when we say that it’s no more different than what a courier service will provide for your package. Just like a courier service, you’ll have to drop your car at the seaport and a shipping company will take care of the procedure from transporting it via sea to delivering it to your doorstep.

As West Africa is famous for importing vehicles from the US, especially used cars, transporting them through airlines might have some restrictions and is not much of an eco-friendly method. Whereas 90% of heavy goods are transported via sea because seaports have a large capacity to handle such shipments.

Available options for International Ocean Freight Shipping: 

As above we have established that ocean freight offers the most economical method of shipping goods, so if you have a slightly less budget it won’t make much of a difference to your shipping costs. Nowadays, sea carriers have a design that there are fewer chances of damage to your vehicle. Also with ocean freight, there are numerous methods to choose from. According to your needs, you can choose either of these modes of transport mentioned below.

RoRo (Roll-on/Roll-off) shipping

Regardless of your vehicle’s dimensions, this is the best method of shipping to select for wheeled vehicles. It is speedier, reliable, cost-effective, and even used by new car manufacturers to transport their vehicles. 

With this mode of shipping, you only have to drop your vehicle at the seaport. From there, the company ties it securely to the ship’s deck, altogether safe from external elements. As soon as the vessel docks at the port, your car will be driven off the ship. You can either opt for driving it yourself or leave it at the responsibility of the shipping company. But we recommend picking your car yourself from the port because it will save you further transportation costs.

One of the main benefits of using RoRo shipping is that the schedule of these vessels is reliable. So, the majority of car shipments reach the destination ports in time.  Another benefit of using this option is that you can ship cars of any size on a RoRo ship. This is possible as space is not a constraint in such shipping vessels.

Container shipping

Container Shipping

Unlike RoRo shipping this method of shipping might cost you more. The only advantage of this option is that you get a container to transport your car on the vessel. 

Usually, shipping containers come in two sizes of 20ft and 40ft. It is up to you to choose one according to your desired needs. If you are after a more personal experience then you could choose from LCL (Less than container load) or FCL (full container load)  methods as both are variants of container shipping. 

FCL shipping is beneficial if you are looking to ship an exotic vehicle and you can also put other belongings along with your car.  In LCL shipping, the company will load your car with other vehicles in the container. If you are in a hurry to ship your car, you must keep in mind the fact that LCL does not come with a fixed date of departure. Each container must be filled to load on the carrier ship. So, your car might reach its destination a week later than the expected arrival date. 

Allowed Items for Ocean Freight Shipping to West Africa

Before transporting your goods it is better to research the restrictions associated with the goods and the shipping conditions. Cargo comes in all varieties, sizes, and weights. It is up to you to choose the best method for shipping your goods to West Africa. But due to low costs, you can ship most of the bulky and hazardous products via sea route. These include food, livestock, fuel, vehicles, machinery, chemicals, etc.

Prohibitions & restrictions on goods imported to West Africa:

When it comes to importing goods each country comes with its own set rules and regulations. While some states permit the import of certain items, they might prohibit their use in the country. Generally, explosives, ammunition, gasoline, and airbags are prohibited items, which cannot be carried via sea. Below we have mentioned some of the items that are banned for import in West African countries.


Out of all West African countries, Nigeria has the most restricted policy about imports. According to Nigeria’s Custom service, items that are prohibited are poultry, certain medicines, preloved clothing, narcotics, used vehicles above 15 years of age, and inflammable or toxic waste products. In 2022 the Government of Nigeria has also directed to ban the import of milk.


According to Ghana’s custom service, the country has prohibited the import of second-hand mattresses, sanitary products, raw coffee, refrigerators, and air conditioners. You have to pay an additional tax on vehicles older than 10 years.


Senegal has strict restrictions against importing used vehicles older than 8 years. The list of prohibited items by customs also includes poultry, ammunition, and obscene print.


There are several prohibited items that you cannot ship to Togo. Moreover, you will need a verification certificate to ship some other items. These include hazardous chemicals, precious stones, liquor hazardous or non-hazardous, ice, batteries, radioactive, perfumes, paints, etc. There are no restrictions on the import of an older vehicle. 


Drugs, the import of guns, ammunition, and non-eco-friendly products are prohibited from being import into the country.

Estimated times for ocean freight shipping to West Africa 

When shipping anywhere, several extrinsic factors come into play like customs clearance, weather forecast, time slate of shipping, peak seasons, etc. If we include all these factors then the average time taken by any shipment to reach West Africa is 3 weeks. Additionally, container shipping might take more time to reach the destination whereas RoRo shipping will take less. A further inspection at the customs of the destination country might also cause an increase in delay.

Cost of International Ocean Freight Shipping to West Africa

Cost of International Ocean Freight Shipping to West Africa

Before shipping, you must take into consideration different factors influencing the cost of shipping. These include the size and weight of the goods, the distance from origin port to destination port, shipping season, any kind of surcharge or customs duty, and the currency exchange rate. Sometimes the cost can also vary due to the fluctuating price of fuel. Additionally, the mode of shipping to West Africa also affects the final cost of international ocean freight shipping.

Some West African countries offer relaxation in tax & duty while others have strict policies and higher import rates. Customs in Nigeria use the exchange rate given on the ‘M form’ to calculate the duty according to the C.I.F value of the goods. A rule of thumb is that if you are shipping to Nigeria then never import right-handed vehicles because then you might have to pay double tax. Various West African countries will use the same C.I.F method to calculate the duty which they assess by the value and shipping cost of a particular good. To know more about the customs & duties of a specific country where you are shipping your vehicle, you must visit the custom authority’s website of that particular country to get a clearer picture of their rules & regulations. 

Why should you choose AFL for international ocean freight shipping?


Our company’s mission statement is to provide flexible rates and quality service to individuals seeking to ship their goods overseas. When you use our ocean freight shipping services, you’ll find that the process is transparent. AFL has no upfront charges and our focus is on making your experience an absolute one. Due to our vast experience, we provide trustworthy shipping options for you to choose from.

Experienced Team:

Our team of professionals will guide you during every step of the shipping process. You don’t need to bear the burden of handling a hefty amount of paperwork because our experienced professional will take care of all the documentation from customs clearance to providing the insurance needed to ship your vehicle.

NVOCC Services:

Due to our NVOCC status, AFL can provide you with the best shipping rates and help you in shipping your vehicle without unnecessary custom delay. We will also advise you on how to complete your paperwork so you won’t face any trouble in custom clearance. 

FAQS about international ocean freight shipping

What documents will you need for shipping your car from the US to West Africa?

You will need the title of ownership and registration, original bill of sale, attested non-sale certificate, and a bill of lading. Various West African countries also require a CTN certificate. To acquire knowledge of what more documents you need, feel free to contact our agent.

Does AFL offer door-to-domestic port shipping services?

If your schedule is packed and you are unable to drop your car at the seaport then we are glad to say that together with our logistics partner SAKAEM we are offering to pick up your vehicle. You just need to book beforehand and the truck will pick up the car from your doorstep.

Will marine insurance help me and how much will it cost?

Marine insurance is an extra cost but we suggest you opt for it. In case the external factors come into play and damage your vehicle during shipping, the insurance company will pay for any harm against your car. Also, it will only cost you between 1-1.5% of your vehicle’s worth. 

What time is best for RoRo shipping to West Africa?

From March till July and November to December are considered to be the best seasons to get cheap shipping rates.

Which container size will be cheaper if I opt for container shipping?

The cost will depend upon the availability of that particular container but generally, if you are choosing a 40ft container for your vehicle rather than 20ft it will cost you more in shipping.


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